GALLERIES: Nissan says the Stanza Wagon is as iconic as the Datsun 510

Vindication. It’s a good feeling. Earlier this year when Ryan published a Consider the Following article about the many charms of the Nissan Stanza Wagon, the comments section got rather heated. Some couldn’t believe a Pulitzer-esque publication like JNC would sing the praises of the Prairie, which — shocker — is apparently not a cool car to some eyes. Well guess what, nonbelievers. Nissan has taken our side.

Last month we revisited Nissan’s headquarters gallery in Yokohama. And while there were more Leafs on the ground than a New England autumn, one small corner of the showroom was reserved for classic models of historic importance, in an exhibit called Game Changers. You’ll never guess which Game Changers happened to be there. That’s right, a Bluebird 510 and an M10 Prairie.

The 1969 Bluebird 510 was an obvious choice. After all, it did revolutionize the way the world thought about cars, thanks to an advanced four-wheel independent suspension decades ahead of its competition (and in many cases cars above its weight class). That made it a force to be reckoned with both on the asphalt and off, transforming the way Americans thought about Japanese cars, opening doors (and wallets) to the many Nissans, Toyotas, Mazdas and Hondas to come.

And right there alongside the 510, sharing the stage, was a 1984 Nissan Prairie JW-G, resplendent in two-tone paint, dog dish hubcaps, and Mondrian door handles. Nissan says that when it was introduced in 1982, the Prairie pioneered what in Japan is called the multipurpose RV class, which led to the now-ubiquitous minivan. It sat up to 8 passengers, and its front-wheel-drive layout allowed for a low floor and sliding rear doors that predated Lee Iacocca’s Chrysler Town & Country by two years.

Prior to the Prairie, the only vehicles that could seat that many people were based on commercial vans. The Prairie was the first car of its kind to be built specifically for family use. It didn’t even have a B-pillar, and as we all know, cars without B-pillars are the coolest.

Obviously Nissan has more Game Changers than just these two. The exhibit, which continues on through January 9, 2018, rotates cars two at a time for a couple weeks at a time. What else is on the list, you say? Glad you asked. In order of display, the were: the SP210 Fairlady roadster, 1969 S30 Fairlady Z, 1988 Nissan Cima, 1988 Nissan Elgrand, B10 Datsun Sunny, Z10 Nissan Cube, 1969 Hakosuka Skyline GT-R, R32 Skyline GT-R, 1935 Datsun Type 14, and 1987 Be-1.

Those cars are displayed in pairs, so Fairlady and Fairlady, GT-R and GT-R, and so on. The 510 was paired with the Prairie for reasons we don’t fully know, but we happened to catch them together at the right rotation. So there you have it — Nissan Stanza Wagon, Game Changer. Now go out and save them.

Bonus images, so you can gaze upon its grandeur. Also, some nifty gift shop items like Nissan Laurel document folders and Pao T-shirts:

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21 Responses to GALLERIES: Nissan says the Stanza Wagon is as iconic as the Datsun 510

  1. BlitzPig says:

    That Stanza as iconic as a 510???

    Someone at Nissan had too much sake. The 510 was a great car, the Stanza was a dud.

  2. Tim says:

    “No B pillar? Surely he misspoke!”

    Nope. Sure enough, there’s nothing between the front and rear doors when open. That’s awesome!

  3. Dave Patten says:

    The idea that Nissan thinks that the Stanza is iconic is why Nissan’s image as a forward thinking auto manufacturer spiraled down the rabbit hole in the ‘late ’70’s.and has never truly recovered.

    For performance minded buyers the S30 Fairlady / Z Car was Nissan’s pinnacle sports car. The Bluebird / 1600 / P(L) 510 econo-box sedan was a unique opportunity to fill both family needs and performance driving as it was a willing “blank slate” for the DIY performance enthusiast.

    The iconic status being bestowed by Nissan on the Stanza is why Nissan, even today, doesn’t have a strong performance image. As great as the GTR is, it is lost in a sea of corporate mediocrity.

    The IDx concept car was a bright light for the DIY performance enthusiast, but alas it too burned-out long before it could illuminate where Nissan has crawled into its rabbit hole.

    • Ant says:

      The word “iconic” is perhaps a bit of creative license from Ben.

      The Prairie is simply part of the “game-changers” exhibit, and since the multi-purpose vehicle market was in its infancy when it arrived, it absolutely justifies that tag.

      Nissan *isn’t* saying it’s as iconic as the Bluebird, just that it deserves a spot in the exhibit in terms of relevance.

  4. Jeff Koch says:

    I’ll be there in a couple of weeks … maybe things will have changed while I’m there.

    I think it’s not that the 510 and Stanza Wagon are a natural pairing. I think it’s that the others, as pointed out above (GTR/GTR, Fairlady/Fairlady etc) ARE a natural pairing, and these are the odd men out.

    That gift shop won’t have T-shirts in my size. Alas. I’d buy the hell out of them.

  5. Yuri says:

    Honestly, I’d be way more excited seeing a Prairie in the wild than a 510/Bluebird.
    But my camera roll from my last trip to Japan is also filled up with Toyota Hi-Ace’s slammed on Watanabes, so I understand that my tastes my not exactly be mainstream.

  6. mister k says:

    more importantly nobody wonders why nissan didn’t set aside a GL or even a SSS for their Zama collection?!

  7. Otso says:

    I would love a Prairie 4 wd !!

  8. Bob says:

    No B-pillars are cool? Thank you. You just vindicated my Honda Element EX.
    Much appreciated.

  9. Scotty G says:

    I agree, maybe because two months after Ryan’s story back in January, I found a rust-free 4WD 5-speed Stanza wagon! And, like Brock Johnson said in the last comment on that story, rear struts are not available. In a twist of fate crazier than hoping for a smooth, honest election, I found a NOS right-rear strut on eBay for $350 and snapped it up instantly! That was the one that I needed because the original one was leaking. The Nissan Gods were smiling on me that day, for some odd reason. I have spent thousands on the suspension and other things. The Nissan dealers in Mpls/St. Paul told me that Nissan literally threw out parts for any vehicle older than the year 2000 because they wanted people to buy new cars. That, if true, made me lose 99% of any respect for the company. But, what a great, cool, fun, funky, odd vehicle that Stanza wagon is.

    Now, if Nissan really cares what so ever about the Stanza wagon and/or about those of us who need parts for our beloved Stanza wagons, let’s see them put their resources where they mouth is.. or somethin’.. GIVE US PARTS FOR OUR STANZA WAGONS! (please)

    • Randy says:

      Man, every time you mention that thing, you get me lookin’ around…

      What about for the Axxess? It just makes absolutely no sense to me that they’d design and produce *A* part for ONE model. Seems like a hella-waste of money to do that.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      I wouldn’t say they are preferred (it has a B-pillar, after all), but they seem to be rarer. The Axxess was the second-generation Prairie and called as such outside the US.

      • Scotty G says:

        (insert thumbs-up here)

        I didn’t mean to jump on the Axxess, I’m all about rare vehicles, I just prefer ones that are off the charts in their quirkiness and the Axxess seems like it wouldn’t turn as many heads as a Stanza wagon would. At least “uneducated” JNC devotees’ heads. I probably hang with a less sophisticated and knowledgeable crowd, JNC-wise.

        B-Pillar is a great band name, by the way..

        • Randy says:

          Geez, I was just thinking about the possibility of the struts, or some other parts being usable on the Stanza Wagon… (Any chance they’re available from a supplier in Japan?)

          Eh, I liked ’em both. Styling went more to the minivan-style with the Axxess, but they were both WAY ahead in packaging… Eight passengers in a compact(?) car’s perimeter.

          Maybe the B-pillar addition was to shore up some structural weakness cause by that gaping hole?

          Haven’t seen either one in real life in forever…

  10. Tony says:

    For something differant google “nissan prairie ugly duckling”
    It ends up being a turbo. Rippes out all the n12 exa turbo stuff and drops it into a prairie.

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